Impacts of COVID-19 on Indigenous Communities in Canada
Background: The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious and potentially deadly virus with growing research examining the mechanism of outbreak and community spread. It is commonly spread through respiratory droplets. This virus has caused a global pandemic declared on March 11, 2020, which has initiated and continues to cause negative health and wellness effects worldwide. This pandemic had led to the closure of social infrastructures, local businesses, and financial instability. Purpose: The purpose of this literature review was to explore the experiences and responses to COVID-19 for Indigenous communities in Canada, specifically looking at the physical health and wellness in these communities. Methods: A literature review was conducted in June 2021. An infographic was created after a review of the literature. Results: Many Indigenous communities in Canada experience the disproportional effects from historical and ongoing health pandemics due to factors such as social determinants of health, the effects of intergenerational trauma, and systemic racism. Indigenous communities have found strengths in community-led initiatives that focus on promoting overall spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing. Conclusion: Indigenous communities in Canada are successfully persevering through the COVID-19 pandemic by maintaining culturally relevant connections with family-centred and land-based approaches to physical health and wellness that have been practiced for generations.
Arriagada, P., Hahmann, T., & O’Donnell, V. (2020, June 23). Indigenous people and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Retrieved from https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/45-28-0001/2020001/article/00035-eng.htm
Banning, J. (2020a). How indigenous people are coping with COVID-19. Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), 192(27), E787-E788. doi:10.1503/cmaj.1095879
Banning, J. (2020b). Why are indigenous communities seeing so few cases of COVID-19? Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), 192(34), E993-E994. doi:10.1503/cmaj.1095891
B.C. Centre for Disease Control. (2021). B.C. COVID-19 Data. Retrieved from http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/data
B.C. Parks. (2020, June 29). B.C. parks response to COVID-19. Retrieved from http://bcparks.ca/covid-19/
Bellrichard, C., & Barrera, J., (2020, March 23). Assembly of First Nations declares state of emergency, as B.C. chiefs call for Ottawa to do the same. CBC News. Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/first-nations-state-of-emergency-pandemic-1.5507122
Black, M. (2020, April 16). COVID-19 in Canada: Fears mount that Indigenous communities could be left behind. Global Citizen. Retrieved from https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/covid-19-in-canada-indigenous-communities/
Borré, K. (1994). The healing power of the seal: The meaning of Inuit health practice and belief. Arctic, 31(1). Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/40316345
Canadian Running Magazine. (2020, May 15). LIVE UPDATE: How Coronavirus is affecting running events. Retrieved from https://runningmagazine.ca/sections/runs-races/live-update-how-coronavirus-is-affecting-running-events/
Charania, N. A., & Tsuji, L. J. (2012). A community-based participatory approach and engagement process creates culturally appropriate and community informed pandemic plans after the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic: Remote and isolated First Nations communities of sub-arctic Ontario, Canada. BMC Public Health,12(1). doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-268
Corntassel, J. (2012). Re-envisioning resurgence: Indigenous pathways to decolonization and sustainable self-determination. Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, 1(1). Retrieved from https://jps.library.utoronto.ca/index.php/des/article/view/18627/15550
Cucinotta, D., & Vanelli, M. (2020). WHO declares COVID-19 a pandemic. Acta Bio Medica Atenei Parmensis, 91(1), 157-160. doi:10.23750/abm.v91i1.9397
Dawson, T. (2020, April 15). As the COVID-19 pandemic hit, provinces declared states of emergency. Now many are up for renewal. National Post. Retrieved from https://nationalpost.com/news/provincial-states-of-emergencies-were-issued-a-month-ago-most-are-coming-up-for-renewal
First Nations Health Authority. (2021). Prevention & protection. Retrieved from https://www.fnha.ca/what-we-do/communicable-disease-control/coronavirus/public
Government of British Columbia. (2020a, November 10). Provincial state of emergency: COVID-19 information & resources. Retrieved from https://www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca/covid19-provincial-state-of-emergency/
Government of British Columbia (2020b, June 10). Province takes action to support return to sport. Retrieved from https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020TAC0026-001038
Government of British Columbia (2020c, May 13). State of emergency extended to support COVID-19 response. Retrieved from https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020PSSG0029-000872
Government of British Columbia (2020d, June 14). BC prepares to safely move to Step 2 of its restart plan. Retrieved from https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2021PREM0041-001155
Government of Canada. (2020a, June 15). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html
Government of Canada, Canada Border Services Agency. (2020b, June 12). COVID-19: Canadians, Indigenous peoples and permanent residents. Retrieved from https://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/services/covid/canadians-canadiens-eng.html
Government of Canada; Indigenous Services Canada. (2020c, October 26). Epidemiological summary of COVID-19 cases in First Nations communities. Retrieved from https://www.sac-isc.gc.ca/eng/1589895506010/1589895527965
Government of Canada; Indigenous Services Canada. (2020d, April 24). Public service announcements about COVID-19. Retrieved from https://www.sac-isc.gc.ca/eng/1583781906998/1583781926813#chp1
Gunn, K. (2020, April 8). Indigenous peoples and COVID-19: Protecting people, protecting rights. First Peoples Law. Retrieved from https://www.firstpeopleslaw.com/index/articles/449.php
Health Link BC. (2020, May 26). Physical activity during COVID-19 [PDF file]. Retrieved from https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/sites/default/files/coronavirus-physical_activity_during_covid.pdf
Hillier, S. A., Chaccour, E., Al-Shammaa, H., & Vorstermans, J. (2020). Canada's response to COVID-19 for Indigenous peoples: A way forward? Canadian Journal of Public Health, doi:10.17269/s41997-020-00444w
Indigenous Corporate Training Inc. (2020, March 24). Indigenous peoples and COVID-19. Retrieved from https://www.ictinc.ca/blog/indigenous-peoples-and-covid-19
Iseke, J. (2013). Indigenous storytelling as research. International Review of Qualitative Research, 6(4), 559-577. doi:10.1525/irqr.2013.6.4.559
Johnston, F. H., Jacups, S. P., Vickery, A. J., & Bowman, D. M. (2007). Ecohealth and Aboriginal testimony of the nexus between human health and place. EcoHealth, 4(4), 489-499. doi:10.1007/s10393-007-0142-0
Joseph, B. (2021). Indigenous peoples and COVID-19. Retrieved from https://www.ictinc.ca/blog/indigenous-peoples-and-covid-19
Joy, L. (2020, April 8) Staying active during COVID-19. American College of Sports Medicine. Retrieved from https://www.exerciseismedicine.org/staying-active-during-covid-191/
Kelly, H. (2011). The classical definition of a pandemic is not elusive. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 89(7), 540–541. doi: 10.2471/blt.11.088815
Kolahdooz, F., Nader, F., Yi, K. J., & Sharma, S. (2015). Understanding the social determinants of health among Indigenous Canadians: Priorities for health promotion policies and actions. Global Health Action, (8). doi:10.3402/gha.v8.27968
Malbeuf, J. (2020, March 28). Indigenous communities introducing curfews, fines to limit spread of COVID-19. CBC News. Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/covid-19-curfew-indigenous-1.5511812
McLaughlin, R. (2020, April 15). Fraser Health orders all gyms and fitness centres to close. CTV News. Retrieved from https://bc.ctvnews.ca/fraser-health-orders-all-gyms-and-fitness-centres-to-close-1.4870426
Neustaeter, B. (2020, June 15). Emerging from coronavirus: Reopening plans province-by-province. CTV News. Retrieved from https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/emerging-from-coronavirus-reopening-plans-province-by-province-1.4913652
Newton, P. (2021, June 1). ‘Unthinkable’ discovery in Canada as remains of 215 children found buried near residential school. CNN. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2021/05/28/world/children-remains-discovered-canada-kamloops-school/index.html
Nishnawbe Aski Nation. (2021). Retrieved from http://www.nan.on.ca/
Parks Canada. (2020, June 5). COVID-19 and your visit to a Parks Canada location. Retrieved from https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/voyage-travel/securite-safety/covid-19-info
Richardson, L. & Crawford, A. (2020). COVID-19 and the decolonization of Indigenous public health. Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), 192(38), E1098-E1101. doi:10.1503/cmaj.200852
Richmond, C. A. M. & Cook, C. (2016). Creating conditions for Canadian Aboriginal health equity; The promise of healthy public policy. Public Health Rev, 37(2). doi:10.1186/s40985-016-0016-5
Rothbauer, K. (2021). More than 2,200 vaccinated at Cowichan Tribes clinics since January. Vancouver Island Free Daily. Retrieved from https://www.vancouverislandfreedaily.com/news/more-than-2200-vaccinated-at-cowichan-tribes-clinics-since-january/
Tennant, P. (1982). Native Indian political organization in British Columbia, 1900-1969: A response to internal colonialism. BC Studies, (55). doi:10.14288/bcs.v0i55.1132
Truth and Reconciliation Canada. (2015). Honouring the truth, reconciling for the future: Summary of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Winnipeg: Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Retrieved from http://www.myrobust.com/websites/trcinstitution/File/Reports/Executive_Summary_English_Web.pdf
United Nations. (2021). COVID-19 and Indigenous peoples. Retrieved from https://www.un.org/development/desa/indigenouspeoples/covid-19.html
World Health Organization (WHO). (2021a). Social determinants of health. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/health-topics/social-determinants-of-health#tab=tab_1
World Health Organization (WHO). (2021b, May 13). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Retrieved from https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/question-and-answers-hub/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses
Wright, T. (2020, May 1). COVID-19 outbreaks in 23 First Nations prompt worries. CTV News. Retrieved from https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/covid-19-outbreaks-in-23-first-nations-prompt-worries-1.4920181
Yellowhead Institute. (2020, April 7). COVID-19 in community: How are First Nations responding? Retrieved from https://yellowheadinstitute.org/2020/04/07/corona-in-community-the-first-nation-response/
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2021 Jocelyn Benji, Gemma Tomasky, Kai Kaufman, Rosalin Miles
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Terms of Publication
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the Health & Fitness Journal of Canada’s right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).
- The Contributor (author(s)) represents and guarantees that the Contributor is the sole proprietor of the work and the Contributor has full power to make this Agreement and grant that the work does not infringe the copyright or other proprietary right of any other person; and the work contains no libellous or other unlawful matter and makes no improper invasion of the privacy of any other person. The Contributor also represents and is responsible for the accuracy of the work.
- The Contributor will read, correct, and return promptly galleys and page proofs to the Editor (or designate). The Contributor will be responsible for the completeness and accuracy of these corrections. If the Contributor does not return galleys and page proofs within the schedule agreed upon with the Editor (or designate), the Publisher may proceed without the Contributor corrections.
- When applicable, the Contributor agrees to obtain written permissions and letters of agreement for all matter contained in the work that is protected by existing copyright, paying any permission fees for the use of text or illustrations controlled by others, and furnishing the Publisher with written evidence of the copyright owner’s authorization to use the material.
- When applicable, the Contributor agrees to obtain written permission for inclusion of any photographic materials involving a human subject, and provide the Publisher with written evidence of the subject’s authorization to use this material. In the case of subjects who have not reached the age of majority, the Contributor agrees to obtain and furnish the Publisher with written permission from the parent and/or legal guardian.
- The Contributor may draw on and refer to material in the work in preparing other articles for publication in scholarly and professional journals and papers for delivery at professional meetings, provided that credit is given to the work and to the Publisher.
- This agreement may not be changed unless the Contributor and the Publisher agree to the change by means of a formal addendum signed by the Contributor and the Publisher’s representative.
- This agreement shall be construed and governed according to the laws of the province of British Columbia and shall be binding upon the parties hereto, their heirs, successors, assigns, and personal representatives. Should any formal proceedings related to this agreement be brought, such formal proceeding may be brought only in the province of British Columbia.
By submitting an article to the Health & Fitness Journal of Canada the Contributor has accepted and agreed to all terms outlined in the copyright notice.